When your start-up grows, don’t let the people decisions slow you down

So your business is funded, you have the management team in place and it’s time to build out. You have an aggressive and highly targeted strategic plan which identifies your revenue channels. You worked with a brilliant marketing agency to create your go to market plan. You have a target operating model that builds on best practice in your industry while still being smart and a little disruptive. You have a hiring plan and a clear sense of the type of people you want to grow your business. And you and the rest of the people on your management team are excited, committed and motivated.

Fast forward 18 months and what happened? The strategic plan was off. It needs reworking and in some cases a radical overhaul. The operating model was much harder to implement than it looked in the process diagrams and people are already reliant on spreadsheet workarounds to the beautiful workflow tools you had planned. Your team has grown from 5 people to 75 and there is a lot of grumbling about poor management. What do you fix first? 99% of CEOs will fix the plan, live with the process workarounds and tear their hair out over the people. At PeopleDiligence, we want to help you with your people.

At PeopleDiligence, we offer a toolkit for senior leaders to quickly understand their workforce. Our products let you see your employee competencies – both as managers and team members – at a glance. We understand that when the pressure is on, you don’t have time to digest 75 appraisal forms … and we think that appraisal forms have a tendency to anchor against very recent performance outcomes or one or two personality traits. So our approach is to try and stretch this out into a kaleidoscope of competencies. We don’t just focus on the headlines, we let you see the detail and the colour in each of your employees. Our dashboards let you drill down to the level of an individual or roll up into team or cohort view. You can deep dive into a set of KPIs that you want exhibited across the entire workforce or you can identify your “change-makers” to staff up a challenging new project. We aim to provide you with ‘at a glance’ data to help you make better people decisions.

Take a typical example: your start-up needs to hire a mid-level administrator to perform a repetitive but important regulatory task. The individual needs to have a good focus on detail, be conscientious and have a strong work ethic. They also need to have just enough technical knowledge to perform the task to the required level. So you hire Peter. Peter has done a very similar role in another company for the past 10 years. But you’re a start-up and the process isn’t all there yet so you ask Peter to be creative and work something out. Then a stakeholder in another team says they can’t work with the new process because it’s not in sync with their process. So now Peter needs to be a problem solver. And because the work isn’t getting done, the front office guys are on the phone complaining to Peter (and anyone else who will listen) every five minutes. So Peter needs to be resilient. Peter just had his appraisal and he’s been put on a performance improvement plan. Peter’s manager is very disappointed with his work and she’s anchored on a big bust-up in the team meeting last month when Peter made a lot of excuses about why the job wasn’t getting done. She can’t understand what the problem is – everyone’s busy and everyone’s fire-fighting so just deal with it. She’s already written the job spec. for his replacement. But is this the right response?

PeopleDiligence lets you drill down into Peter’s competencies. The headline is that he’s not getting the job done. But having reviewed his profile, it turns out he scores highly for rigour, conscientiousness, technical knowledge and work ethic. He’s perfect for the job. It’s just he’s been asked to do a bunch of extra things that aren’t playing to his strengths. It would be great to find a replacement who can switch from being a creative, problem solving, blue sky thinker one week to being a hard-working, loyal process follower the next. But maybe it’s easier to recognise that Peter is going to do just fine in his role once the operating model has advanced and just needs support with some of the stretching design issues in the early days.

PeopleDiligence gives you the tools to help you make better human capital decisions. We let you look into the kaleidoscope and shift it a degree to turn an awkward shape into something beautiful. We help you deploy your brilliant misfits in the right roles and we keep helping you reshape, reappraise and redesign your human capital base as you grow. We have three tools: TeamAudit (employee competencies), MBase (manager competencies) and SAM, our Satisfaction and Motivation survey. Our products are low risk and low cost. We don’t give you the answers but we give you the tools to ask better questions. We grow with you supporting you with data at every stage of your journey.

 
If you think PeopleDiligence could be of use in your business, you can reach Claire and the PD team at: claire.hartnell@peoplediligence.co.uk

 

About the Author

Claire Hartnell

Founder of PeopleDiligence

ex-L.E.K Consultant

20+ years freelance consulting experience 

Published in General

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